Bardem, Italy's Germano share Cannes best actor prize

Spanish actor Javier Bardem and Italy's Elio Germano on Sunday shared the best actor award at the Cannes film festival for their roles in two gritty urban dramas.

Bardem, 41, scooped the honour for his performance as a terminally ill hustler in "Biutiful," a powerful Spanish-language drama by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

The actor addressed his girlfriend Penelope Cruz, who sat in the awards ceremony audience, saying as he received the award that he wanted to share it with "my love Penelope who I love so much, and to whom I owe so much."

Germano, 29, shared the best actor prize with Bardem for his role as an ambitious construction contractor in Daniele Luchetti's "Our Life," a gritty slice of working class life in today's Rome.

"I dedicate this film to Italy and the Italians, who are doing all in their power to make the country a better place" than under its current leaders, he said as he accepted the prize at the festival's glitzy closing ceremony.

Bardem's prize at Cannes was the latest milestone in a career that has seen the Spanish heart-throb emerge as a global box office star.

Two years ago he made history by becoming the first Spanish actor to win an Oscar, as best actor in a supporting role, for his portrayal of a psychopathic hitman in the Coen brothers thriller "No Country for Old Men."

The award confirmed Bardem's reputation as one of cinema's most versatile performers, following his Oscar-nominated turn as a gay poet in 2000's "Before Night Falls" and as a bed-ridden paralysis victim in 2004's "The Sea Inside."

Born in the Canary Islands in 1969, Bardem has acting in his blood: his mother is a television actor in Spain and his grandparents were also actors.

In his early 20s, he landed the role that first gained him international attention, playing the love interest to Penelope Cruz in Bigas Luna's 1992 film "Jamon, Jamon."

He appeared alongside Cruz again in Woody Allen's 2008 film "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" as the object of three women's desires.

Bardem will next be seen in the Hollywood studio production "Eat Pray Love," opposite Julia Roberts in a big-budget adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir.

Elio Germano is little known outside his native Italy but at home is among the country's best loved up and coming stars.

He began his film acting career at the age of 12 and has since worked with Italian directors such as Ettore Scola, Michele Placido and Emanuele Crialese.

Germano also starred in Luchetti's 2007 film "My Brother is an Only Child," which also premiered at Cannes.

The neo-realist "Our Life" sees him play Claudio, whose adored wife has just died in childbirth, and who determines to make it big in the construction world - legally or illegally - so his surviving kids will never want for anything.

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